Buying storage? 5 New decision criteria from Gartner

Once, there was a single element that could make or break the success of a storage solution: a “killer feature.” Vendors worked to perfect these high-value capabilities for their products and establish themselves as the only companies able to deliver at a certain caliber. From features such as compression, deduplication, and flash and solid-state drives to unified storage connectivity and bare-metal recovery, every part of the storage market was covered by a key player (that branded itself as “best-of-breed”).

In the past couple of decades, the “killer feature” value has declined. Overall, this has been a positive shift, which took place because multiple vendors were able to deliver varied features in a comprehensive, expert manner.

However, introducing a level playing field to the storage industry created a new problem: with few vendors standing out from the crowd, every vendor’s message and marketing began to sound the same. In fact, a recent Garter survey found that 52 percent of IT buyers find it difficult to grasp overall differences between most storage providers in today’s market.

How to find the right storage solution in a crowded market

Dave Russell, Gartner analyst, describes these shifting market dynamics in a recent report. Today, the criteria storage buyers use for making infrastructure decisions has fundamentally changed. Once-dominant factors such as legacy vendors, products, packaging, delivery methods and architectural approaches no longer decide how a company choses its storage solution. Instead, above all other goals, modern IT pros are looking to improve costs, extend capabilities and reduce complexity.

In the report, Gartner advises storage buyers to consider the “five S’s,” a series of nontechnical criteria, as they evaluate new solutions. Using this framework, sample questions may include:

  • Savings: Will a new storage platform improve our IT system’s total cost of ownership (TCO)?
  • Simplicity: Can we deploy and upgrade storage with our existing in-house expertise?
  • Support: Will the vendor support every branch of our company, regardless of location?
  • Sustainability: Will the technology remain relevant in a changing landscape for at least three to five years?
  • Synthesis: Can the solution support and extend the value of our overall IT strategy?

We’ve recognized for some time that the storage market would eventually come to a head. Much like the radical changes that took place when consumers began widely adopting smartphones, the only way to change the storage conversation – at your company and in the overall market – is to introduce an option that dramatically upends the perceived expectations and potential for storage capabilities.

Any new technology decision needs to fit your company. Far too often, decisions get rubber stamped without total analysis of what’s being enabled with a solution’s new levels of access or functionality, and the technology’s impact on the company’s intellectual property. As nontechnical evaluation criteria becomes increasingly important, ask yourself Russell’s suggested questions – as well as these:

  • Are we using valuable insights to their full potential?
  • Are we able to defend our sensitive data against risks?
  • Can we minimize the risks and complexities created by unstructured data stores?
  • How would we know if a third-party attacker breached our system?
  • Can we promise customers their data will be safe with our company?

Your customers’, employees’ and business partners’ privacy is critical. Under the new definition of the term is unacceptably long. IT must deploy the best technology available to protect constituents at all times, and when data loss does occur, teams should be able to figure out who did what, when, and how to fix it.

Learn more questions to ask to help your company become data-aware.

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John Joseph

John Joseph

President and co-founder of DataGravity, John Joseph leads company’s sales, marketing, operations and customer initiatives. John previously served as vice president of marketing and product management at EqualLogic, leading these functions from the company's initial launch through the successful acquisition by Dell in 2008. He subsequently served as vice president of enterprise solutions, marketing at Dell for three years after the acquisition.